Dunkirk & The Parallels I’ve Experienced Living Life As a Certain Kind of Man

Dunkirk, 2017 film was a wonderful song of redemption, testing one’s courage, morals, and at it’s apex humility. With a healthy run time of one hour and forty seven minutes, the film gave audiences a good chance to get acquainted with the soldiers. You got an honest to goodness feel of what they were up against [nothing pretty]. And a good bit of British men [protagonists] were evacuated from the French beaches after a devastating German defeat. But not all of them; Tom Hardy‘s Farrier, the even tempered Royal Air Force pilot [with a broken, descending plane] continued the onslaught, killing five German pilots in a blaze of glory before being forced to “crash land” the plane.

The process of landing the plane was a long one and he exhausted all options before doing so. The heroic feat saved friendly ships from sinking and beached soldiers from enemy air assault. After eventually landing his disabled plane virtually unscathed from German fire, Hardy shot a flare gun through the cockpit of his own beloved aircraft to prevent the opposing side from defacing his honor. He had successfully saved numerous soldiers who had escaped the beach that was under attack and he knows it’s only a matter of time before the Germans claim him as their own. What was fascinating about the way Hardy portrayed a professional under tremendous pressure is the fact that he was poised.

Although eventually the inevitable happened and he was captured. The soldiers who fled the losing war [afraid they would be shunned by the townspeople for extraction] were surprisingly welcomed with open arms. I love a great war movie, but if I left the theater that day with one thing; it was the lesson of humility. The sense of duty; carrying out the necessary task simply because it’s what needs to be done.

As I grow older, I’m experiencing many different things. But I also face many of the same things that I didn’t deal well with when I was younger. One of the biggest challenges in my life is fatherhood. My daughter is going through changes and pretty soon; she won’t be daddy’s little angel anymore. Children grow up and they become their own people. It would be selfish of us to think that they are supposed to eternally subscribe to what is acceptable to us [barring any blatant disrespect]. And in a single parent household, you can believe that everyone in the equation feels their own levels of frustration for one reason or another.

In my particular case, I’m the authority. And guess where my daughter is most of the time? Right under me, being told right from wrong; being groomed and re-directed. I put in a lot of time to ensure her safety and well-being. Unfortunately, it can’t be all about fun. It’s a science really; the most devoted parent gets the shitty end of the stick. Prepare yourself as you may, it still sucks when you’re going through your kid’s drawing book and discover that they are glorifying the absentee parent and crossing your picture out because you made them do extra chores one day. There are no referees on the field of rifted co-parenting. And there are none on the battlefield: but there is Dunkirk and there is manhood. In a society where manhood has been the object of much derision, I think it’s important to remember that being a man isn’t a birthright: it’s earned.

Manhood is a badge. It’s a medal awarded to the Farriers of the world who are steadfast and even tempered. Whenever parenthood tests me and I’m feeling like,“why am I making this sacrifice if I’m not even being appreciated?” I think of Farrier slowly guiding his plane to imminent death. But not before exhausting all of his efforts to save as many soldiers as possible. And I ask myself why he saved them instead of trying to save himself; it’s because he was going for that badge of manhood. And that badge is knowledge: Knowing you did the right thing.

I’m addressing men; day in and day out we have to do what’s right with or without recognition. Dunkirk reminds me that I’m not raising my daughter this way so I can be her best pal. I’m doing it because that’s what she needs. I’m the kind of man I am because it’s my job. And the only medal I seek is manhood: the peace in knowing that I did what I had to do.